Nebraska Population Steadily Swells, Matching U.S. Growth Rate
January 4th, 2019
OMAHA, Neb. â€” The U.S. Census Bureau released figures last month that show that Nebraska is still growing steadily and now just under the two million population mark.
David Drozd, research coordinator at UNOâ€™s Center for Public Affairs Research, says that Nebraska is matching the national growth rate for the first time in a long while.
â€œWe are right at the U.S. growth rate in the last year, and that is something that Nebraska has not been able to do very often historically,â€ Drozd says. â€œThis 2010s decade is the closest weâ€™ve been to the U.S. growth rate since pioneer days, so weâ€™re doing relatively well.â€
He continues: â€œWe have two different trends going on across the state. Our metro areas are increasing in population and doing so quite rapidly, and our rural portions of the state are struggling from some population loss. Thatâ€™s nothing new; itâ€™s been going on for decades.â€
For now, it appears Nebraska will keep its three congressional seats when redistricting occurs after the 2020 census. Drozd spoke on the implications of losing representation in Congress.
â€œAll of Nebraska suffers if we would lose the seat,â€ he says. â€œIf we lost the seat, it would probably go to a fast-growing place such as Texas, Florida, or California. Those are all places that have different priorities than we do, such as being on a coastâ€”they have hurricanes, and we donâ€™t have that here. So hurricane flooding could be an issue that they support, whereas we would promote more agricultural issues.
â€œThereâ€™s different types of funding that go out, and we want to have our interests here in Nebraska represented by our Congressmen. Itâ€™s good to be able to keep the three seats that we already have.â€
With this growth in mind, what can Nebraska do to continue to increase its population?
â€œWhere we stand out is our births. For whatever reason, Nebraska tends to have a large number of children,â€ Drozd says. â€œThereâ€™s always a jokeâ€”thereâ€™s something in the water hereâ€”but I think itâ€™s more that we are a place thatâ€™s very community and civic minded. We have a lot of volunteerism and religious participation. So we just want to have a supportive environment for families.â€
Drozd says Nebraska also scores well in labor force participation among many different demographics.
â€œSo when you combine the workforce aspects with that high birth rate, you have a lot of demands for childcare and education,â€ he says. â€œWe want to make sure that families feel stable, safe, and that they have the childcare options available to them and at a price thatâ€™s affordableâ€”one of the fastest-growing costs is childcare and higher education.
â€œWe just want to make sure that we have policies and programs in place to support the families so they feel that they are prepared and can accept the responsibilities that childbearing brings.â€
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